CYCLIST.CO.UK4.5 OUT OF 5
Calling a product Altura Nightvision Thunderstorm not only makes it sound like a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but also sets up a lot of expectation.
Seeking to bolster those expectations, Altura has outlined that its latest commuter jacket does not only stand up to be counted in thunderstorms – among the roughest of weather conditions – but also to being visible in pitch black.
A quick look on the Altura website then shows that the brand claims this jacket has been 'designed to protect the cyclist in all-weather conditions while providing additional rider visibility with the added benefit of colour-reflective fabric'.
It's the kind of bold claim that most brands make, and the kind that products occasionally don't live up to when pushed to their limits.
So with that in mind, I'll be frank: the majority of my testing for the Altura Nightvision Thunderstorm jacket didn't take place on a bike.
Yes, it accompanied me on a few folding bike dashes from the office to the station and a couple of times to the local shops but primarily my testing of this jacket came while on a recent hiking trip up north.
More specifically, I walked the three peaks of the Yorkshire Dales. 40km up Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and finally Ingleborough.
In total, you walk, scramble and climb for 1,444m of elevation gain across just shy of 10 hours, stopping only once for a tuna wrap and a bowl of chips from a quaint local pub.
It's pretty brutal up there. Temperatures are low, even more so at the peaks themselves, where a swirling wind from the Irish Sea saw it drop to as low as -5 deg C at points.
Why did I choose to test this commuter jacket off of the bike in such harsh conditions?
Well, firstly because this jacket has not been designed solely for commuting bike rides but for before and after – even when the bike's not present.
And secondly, because if it could pass through the harsh conditions of the Yorkshire Dales then it would sail through any commute, no matter how miserable, with ease.
Thankfully, it passed with flying colours.
Snug as a rug
Setting off in the cold and dark, the first thing I noticed was just how hi-vis this jacket truly is.
Unlike the sprawling urban streets of London or Manchester, rural Yorkshire hasn't been blessed with street lighting as of yet, plunging me into complete darkness.
While that made my hiking companion almost invisible to any potential traffic, I found that the colour reflective fabric utilised by Altura caught any artificial light that pointed in my direction, causing me to glow in full view, making me a highly visible object for anyone behind the wheel.
The reflective material even worked in dusk, when daylight was low but still present, often the hardest light to distinguish potential commuters.
Even then, car headlights would pick up the panels of the jacket and reflect light back, something highly useful when hiking – and commuting.
With a generous spread barrage of pockets, the Altura Nightvision Thunderstorm jacket also doesn't lack in the storage department.
You get your usual two side pockets, which were deep enough to house a pair of gloves, as well as a left breast pocket, the perfect size to store your phone and easily accessible just in case you need to make a quick call or capture a picturesque view.
The fourth pocket comes on the tail of the jacket like you'd find on a technical road cycling garment and again is of a decent size, big enough to carry your wallet and a couple of energy bars if you wish.
All the pockets have hidden zips and tapered seams to prevent water sneaking its way in although the design is as such that the pockets are easily opened on the move.
The tapered seams also help to trap heat into the jacket, allowing little escape for body heat and little entry for blistering wind or freezing rain.
It also helps that the nylon/polyester body of the jacket is incredibly waterproof and a match for even the foulest rain that the Dales could provide.
My only issue was that sometimes the lack of escape for heat caused me to overheat when exerting myself hillside or between the office and train station, causing a slight bin bag effect.
Mind you, it's always better to be too warm with the option to reduce layers than to be cold.
A final point of note is that Altura has also produced a jacket that looks pretty reasonable when worn off of the bike despite being hi-vis.
Following my hike, I treated myself to a well-deserved pint in the local pub, wearing the same jacket I'd worn all day during my hike, and it didn't look out of place.
Just like it hasn't looked out of place when taken from the bike to the coffee shop when at home in London.
From the heights of the Yorkshire Dales to the depths of east London coffee shops, this Altura commuter jacket has proven itself as a jacket for all occasions and at just £129.99 it's a bit of a bargain too.
A top rate commuting jacket for on and off the bike that doesn't cost a fortune